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5 PR sins to avoid when growing your business

Public relations strategies could make or break your business.



Creating an effective public relations (PR) strategy can play an integral role in growing your business and result in a significant amount of free media coverage you’d otherwise pay decent money for. Every business and every business owner wants PR, even more so if you’re a startup, as it’s a free way to spread the word about what you do.

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses out there don’t put the time and necessary resources into developing a PR strategy that contributes towards its end goals.

Here are my top 5 PR sins I see all the time when businesses take a DIY approach to PR.

Sin #1 – Entering the PR space without a strategy or plan

Before you reach out to journalists or even send out a media release, it’s vital that you consider what your end goals are and how your PR activity is going to contribute positively towards them. How else can you possibly ascertain if putting resource towards PR is worthwhile for your business and its long-term goals? The clearer you are with your strategy, the better.

Sin #2 – Failing to focus on relationship building with the media

Let’s be honest, we’d all love to send one media release and generate national or even international media attention. Sure, it’s possible but ultimately, unlikely. Like everything else, PR requires you to be patient and persistent, to put time and effort into building relationships with the journalists writing stories in your space. It is time-consuming to do this research, but it’s well worth the effort. After all, what’s the point of pitching a political story to a sports journalist?

Sin #3 – Adopting the scattergun approach

“How many contacts do you have on your list?” It’s a question PR consultants get often, but it’s the wrong question. It might sound great to tell a client that I have 6,000 journalists on a media list that I can send their press release out to, but realistically, having 10 journalists who cover the relevant beat and would be interested in the story is a far better approach. Sending your media release out into the world and ‘hoping’ it will land in the right person’s inbox or that a journalist will send it on to a relevant colleague is not a solid strategy.

PR sins to avoid

Public relations strategy, when done correctly, can help your business grow. (Source)

Sin #4 – Being blind sighted by your end goal

I’ve always said there’s a fine line between persistence and annoyance. I’m not a massive talker, and that means I do more listening than speaking. Listening and observing has served me well in the PR space. While following up with the media is crucial, failing to accept the word “no” because you’re blind sighted by your need to generate media does not help you in the long-run. Respecting journalists is vital in building relationships, and if I’m honest, nothing sends me running away faster from a client than someone who says or writes to me, “I need you to hound so and so until we gain coverage.” It’s not the way things work, and it’s not an approach I am comfortable with.

Sin #5 – Ignoring that PR is a long-term game

While there are always stories that receive pick-up off the back of one media release (a funky new restaurant opening or an annual event etc), building the kind of relationships most businesses need to meet their goals is a long-term game. I’ve worked with clients, building their media presence from scratch, where we took more than six months to get to a point where the media knew who we were and what we did. From that point, we started being approached by the media for comment when they were working on a relevant story. In an ideal world, journalists will call you for comment when they’re working on a story you or your business is an established authority in. It is possible, but like with all good things in life, it takes time and commitment.

PR is all about consistency. It can be frustrating, but when you believe in what you’re driving, the achievement of placing media is an incredible feeling. If you’re looking to outsource your PR, I suggest you ensure the company/consultant you’re considering working with is genuinely interested and passionate about your space and industry.

My final piece of advice is: don’t give up. You never know when that one release or one email pitch might result in a big media opportunity.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Sarah Cannata is a passionate wordsmith, a Public Relations consultant and is the founding editor of This Woman Can, an online community, news hub and digital magazine. Our mission is to help young people and women to realise and maximise their life and career potential. Sarah is also a Huffington Post contributor and has been published widely in print and on websites such as The Age, The Motherish, The Daily Muse, Women’s Agenda and has helped her PR clients to get featured in the likes of the ABC, The Herald Sun, The Guardian and SBS. She is a soon to be published picture book author and has a new eBook available for those wanting to learn more about PR, Kickstarting Your PR Strategy.